The Ohio State University Alumni Association

Research demonstrates the importance of evidence-based care to your family’s health.

Doctor examins x-rays

When you visit your health care provider, do you expect to receive care based on the best and latest research evidence? Or would you be satisfied with care that is steeped in tradition, which is the way it’s been provided for years without any regard to new scientific findings?

I know what I choose for myself and my family: Clearly, it would be evidence-based health care.

Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a problem-solving approach to health care delivery that integrates best evidence from well-designed studies with a clinician’s expertise and patient’s preferences and values. Multiple studies have shown that this approach results in high-quality care, improved population health and a better patient experience.

Unfortunately, many care decisions are instead based on the “because we’ve always done it that way” or “that’s the way it is done here” models. For example, children with asthma continue to be treated with nebulizers in many emergency rooms across the United States even though numerous studies have indicated better outcomes and fewer hospitalizations when children are given a bronchodilator with a metered-dose inhaler and spacer.

Recently, colleagues and I published an article in Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing that confirmed many hospitals across the country have not implemented EBP. We surveyed 276 chief nursing executives and found that, in addition to a low level of EBP in their hospitals, a substantial percentage were not meeting national benchmarks for quality and safety. Research findings support that when clinicians implement evidence-based practice, we can expect at least 28 percent better outcomes.

So, what does that mean to you and your loved ones? It means you may have to begin asking tougher questions of your health care providers. Years ago, while on vacation in Australia, I nearly lost my youngest daughter when her appendix ruptured. Providers there did not follow evidence-based practices or my suggestions as a pediatric nurse practitioner, and my daughter ended up with multiple complications as a result.

As health care consumers, we cannot afford to be timid when speaking with our providers about care for ourselves and our loved ones. If your provider cannot answer your questions or provide evidence behind the care and medications that are being delivered, seek out a nurse practitioner or physician who will provide you with evidence-based care.

It’s really that important. The evidence is irrefutable.

Ask for EBP

Many patients don’t know where to start when discussing medical treatment. Here are a few tips:

  • Ask providers for the evidence behind screenings or treatments they are recommending.
  • Stop providers if you don’t understand your care and ask for evidence-based explanations in language you can understand.
  • Keep asking questions until you are satisfied with the answers.
  • Engage in health care decisions with your providers.
  • Be sure to seek out care, information and resources that are evidence-based and reliable.
  • Persist if you are not satisfied with your care or the answers to your questions.
Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk is the university’s chief wellness officer, associate vice president for health promotion and College of Nursing dean.